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Kinematics of Settling and Flocculating Suspensions

Academic lead
Dr Tim Hunter (School of Chemical and Process Engineering)
Industrial lead
Geoff Randall, Sellafield Ltd and Andrew Manning, HR Wallingford
Dr Robert Dorrell (School of Earth and Environment), Prof Jeff Peakall (School of Earth and Environment)
Project themes
Environmental Flows, Particulate flows, sediments & rheology

Particles in suspension may agglomerate to form large flocs. These flocs may have different settling velocities than their parent particle, and thus significantly effect particle sedimentation and transport. However, despite their importance in industry and environment, the kinematics of settling, flocculating suspensions is poorly understood, where associations with entrained gases create further complexities. Of increasing importance, is the use of polymeric flocculants to enhance aggregation and separation; however, there is requirement for a significant advancement in our understanding of how the particle-polymer-particle interaction forces alter fluid hydrodynamics and phase separation, especially in settling environments of variable shear. This project will seek to develop the first theoretical and experimental models to predict the sedimentation dynamics of such flocculating, sediment systems with and without entrained gas. Of key interest will be the use of both natural and man-made coagulants, and the potential for biotechnology to enhance industrial processes.